Long Insurance Services of Kernersville, NC


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All posts by Monte Long

FrontDoorDelivery

Prevent Porch Pirates from Pilfering Your Packages

There’s almost nothing more convenient than online ordering. But when your work hours don’t align with the delivery schedule, it can leave a nice crime of opportunity for package thieves. One study by InsuranceQuotes.com estimates that 23 million Americans have had a package swiped from their doorstep before they could retrieve it. With two-thirds of Americans reporting they shop online at least once a month, the problem is likely to stick around. Here are a few steps to protect your deliveries from so-called “porch pirates.”

Go-go gadget. Various smart gadgets on the market can be helpful devices when it comes to securing packages. A video doorbell could let you view and speak to the delivery person at your door through your mobile device, so you can simply request they leave the package in a less conspicuous spot — or you can activate your smart lock and have them leave it inside your door.

Contact your carrier. Do a little detective work, and you may uncover some options through the delivery service. Many carriers now offer flexible options that let you schedule or reroute deliveries. For example, you could have them dropped off and held at a retailer near you, or deposited in a secure locker. Before you order, check the alternative offerings from the carrier.

Check your credit card policies. Some credit card companies offer protection against package theft to help you recover your losses. For specifics, get in touch with your credit card company to find out if this protection is available and for how much.

Alternative deliveries. Avoid the unwanted situation altogether and send the deliveries where swiping is far less likely. Your workplace, if your employer allows it, is one excellent option. You can also ask neighbors or family members who are home during the day to accept your deliveries and have your packages routed to their place. Just be sure to give them a little something for their trouble.

Finally, read about holiday burglaries.

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Public-WiFi

Using Public Wi-Fi

Public Wi-Fi helps us stay connected no matter where we go. It’s convenient to use at a coffee shop, a neighborhood restaurant or the airport, but how safe is it? Unfortunately, cyber criminals can log in to the same free network that you do and attempt to gain access to your devices and personal information.

“The Wi-Fi may be free, but that doesn’t mean your online activities are safe,” says Cheryl Lorei, a senior IT analyst at Erie Insurance who has worked in information security for 15 years. “The big concern with public Wi-Fi is that your information could be available to anyone on the network. It’s nothing against the businesses that offer free Wi-Fi, it’s just that they’re not in the business of keeping your personal information safe.”

Four tips to help make your online activities more secure

Here are a few key things that you need know about public Wi-Fi security and how to keep your personal information safe.

  1. Watch out for phony Wi-Fi access points. Fake routers are designed to look legitimate, but hackers operate them. With this popular method, called a man-in-the-middle attack, the invader tries to get between you and your personal information that is stored on a banking website or in an email. “These situations can be difficult to detect,” says Lorei. “If you don’t know who is running the network, don’t use it. Always ask the business owner or hotel to verify the network name before you connect to it.” Once you’re finished, remove the public Wi-Fi connection from your device. If your device is still in the mode of actively trying to connect, a hacker may notice and create a phony access point. 
  2. Limit your activity while using public Wi-Fi. When you’re using free Wi-Fi, it’s not a good time to shop online, use social media or access your bank account or email. “You want to avoid visiting websites that save and store your personal passwords or credit card numbers,” says Lorei. “You could inadvertently make it easy for someone to access your personal information. Once they have your password, they will try to reuse it repeatedly to access other sites to gain more information about you.” 
  3. Use secured websites or a VPN service. Generally, it’s best to access secured websites that begin with https rather than http. The s in the address is an indication that the site uses a secured encryption Web protocol to protect the confidentiality of online activities or transactions. A virtual private network (VPN) also offers a connection that is encrypted and secured. VPN can help protect you from digital eavesdropping even when you’re on public Wi-Fi. The fees for basic VPN services are less than $10 a month. 
  4. Turn your smartphone into a secured personal hot spot. Most mobile phones can be turned into hot spots and support several devices at once. However, check your data plan before you try it to avoid unexpected expenses. “Personal hot spots are popular alternatives, but you still need to do your research about how to protect and secure the connection,” Lorei says.

Once your identity is stolen, it can be difficult to recover. “Unfortunately, you’re not going to be able to flip a switch to restore everything,” Lorei says. “It’s a smart move to do all you can to protect yourself.”

Insurance coverage is available for identity theft and fraud. With Erie Insurance’s Identity Recovery Coverage, you’ll get help with the recovery process and coverage for expenses like charges for credit reports, lost wages and even some legal fees. The cost of the coverage is low—about $20 a year—and it can be added to a home or renters insurance policy. A local Erie Insurance agent can tell you more about the details.

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Holiday Up in Flames

Don’t let a fire take the merry out of your holidays.

The Holidays are a time of year to enjoy friends and family, but sometimes they don’t always go as planned. Don’t believe us? Check out this experiment we did with our Erie, Pennsylvania, City of Erie Fire Department.

ERIE staged a fire in a vacant home which showed how a Christmas tree fire can fill a room with toxic smoke in just 30 seconds and burn down an entire living room in one minute.

“Many people love their Christmas decorations and choose to leave them up for a few weeks after the holiday, but when it comes to a dried-out live Christmas tree, that’s a dangerous risk to take,” said  Gary Sullivan , vice president of property and subrogation claims, Erie Insurance. “We want families to enjoy the post-holiday season safely; we don’t want them to be displaced from their homes due to a fire, or even worse, caught in a life-threatening situation.”

Recent national reporting done by the National Fire Protection Association showed Christmas trees resulted in an annual average of seven civilian fire deaths, 19 civilian fire injuries and $17.5 million in direct property damage during a four-year period. Make sure to take care of your tree to ensure a safe and happy holiday.

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Secure-Shopping

Shop Safe Online this Holiday Season

Last year, ERIE Customer Don O.* of Pennsylvania received a text from Amazon letting him know that his package had been delivered.

The only problem? He hadn’t ordered anything—an identity thief had. Don later discovered that the thief had also opened up a fake credit card in his name and used it to purchase an Amazon Prime membership in addition to products from the popular e-commerce site. Just like that, Don became one of the 13.1 million people affected by identity theft in 2015.

Online shopping is growing increasingly popular—last year, the National Retail Federation’s Thanksgiving weekend survey revealed that more people shopped on the Web than in stores during the Black Friday weekend.

Yet e-commerce also gives identity thieves new ways to commit their crimes. If you’re shopping from the comfort of your couch this holiday season, the following tips from a variety of experts can help you lower your chances of getting trapped like Don. (Fortunately, his story had a happy ending—check it out below.)

  • Only shop on secure sites. Any page that lets you enter credit card information should start with https:// and include a locked padlock icon. Make sure to enter the correct spelling of the site you intend to visit.
  • Avoid making purchases via a public Wi-Fi connection and computer. Open connections can give hackers direct access to your personal information. The big concern with public Wi-Fi is that your information could be available to anyone on the network. Also avoid using public computers in places like libraries or hotels—they can often store your personal information for anyone to see.
  • Choose strong passwords. If a site requires you to log in,choose a password that doesn’t in any way relate to your personal information. And be sure the password includes a mix of upper- and lowercase letters, numbers and characters.
  • Activate your device’s built-in firewalls. Also consider investing in separate security software and updating it frequently.
  • Update your browser(s). Browsers need to be updated just like security software does. Regularly check for browser updates—older versions could have security gaps that leave you vulnerable to identity theft.
  • Check your card’s purchase activity frequently. During the holiday shopping frenzy, it’s worth checking your credit card transaction activity every week or so. Doing so lets you spot and dispute any fraudulent charges ASAP.

(FULL ARTICLE)

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Auto Coverage

Understanding Your Auto Coverage

You know if you have a car, you need auto insurance. However, you’re probably not thinking about what kind of coverage you have until you need it. From protecting your car, to protecting your passengers and any prized possessions along for the ride, it’s good to know your ERIE policy has you covered for life’s little mishaps.

Say your daughter forgets your car is parked right behind her in the driveway or a deer doesn’t wait his turn to cross the street, we’ll make sure you’re back on the road as soon as possible. In the moments after an accident, so many things are happening that you may feel overwhelmed. Thinking about what you auto policy covers shouldn’t be one of them.

Common Coverages
Depending on your state’s requirements for auto insurance and what limits and options you pick, your auto policy can include up to six common coverages.

You Cause an Accident and Someone Gets Hurt: If you cause an accident and other people are injured due to your negligence, bodily injury liability coverage is what protects you against their claims for damages, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. (Talk to your ERIE Agent to learn more and to determine what limits are best for your situation.)

(FULL ARTICLE)

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Insurance Audit

Why Is My Business Being Audited?

Erie Insurance’s priority is always to do right by you, our valued Customers. Although an insurance audit may seem like bad news, the truth is that it may not be as troublesome as you may think. In fact, it could be beneficial to your business.

If you have workers’ compensation and/or general liability coverage for your business, it’s likely that your insurer will conduct an audit. This common practice helps ensure that the insurance company doesn’t overcharge or undercharge your business for coverage. In the end, you’ll be reassured that your coverage is up to date and you’re paying the proper amount.

The good that comes from an insurance audit

When you purchase your policy, the initial premium charged for workers’ compensation and general liability coverage is estimated using different rating bases as well as the proper classifications and rates that apply to the business and the work during the policy term. Premiums for workers’ compensation insurance are estimated based on payroll. Premiums for general liability insurance are calculated based on different variables, such as payroll, receipts, sales, units and the like.

Throughout your policy term, your sales, payroll and other variables will fluctuate. The audit takes place at the end of the policy period to collect the updated information and calculate your final premium.

For example, if business is better than you expected and you have hired more employees than you planned, your payroll will be higher and you will potentially have a greater exposure for someone to file a workers’ compensation claim. It’s a smart move to reconcile any differences.

There are three basic types of audits:

  • Questionnaire audit: You will be mailed a letter that provides a website address and a password that allows you to sign on and complete a questionnaire.
  • Telephone audit: An auditor will contact you by phone and interview you to complete the audit. You will initially receive a letter with a date and a two-hour window when the auditor will call you.
  • Physical audit: An auditor will meet with you in person to complete the audit information.

What happens if my estimates are not accurate?

Estimates should be as close as possible to the actual amount of payroll and sales incurred during the policy period. If the estimate is too high, you’ll receive a refund, usually a credit to your current policy. If it is too low, you’ll receive a bill for the additional premium for the audit period and the current year.

(Full Erie Article)

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